Scanning probe microscopy

Scanning probe microscopy

BOOKS & MEDIA UPDATE Scanning Probe Microscopy Adam Foster and Werner Hofer Springer • 2006 • 350 pp ISBN: 0-387-40090-7 $149 / £92.50 / 119.95 This...

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BOOKS & MEDIA UPDATE

Scanning Probe Microscopy Adam Foster and Werner Hofer Springer • 2006 • 350 pp ISBN: 0-387-40090-7 $149 / £92.50 / 119.95 This book provides a comprehensive source of information on scanning probe theory, including that underpinning simulation techniques. By providing a comprehensive framework for electron transport theory, the authors give an insight into the physics of scanning probes. Experimentalists will learn how materials properties influence instrument operation and theorists will discover how simulations and data can be compared.

MEMS: A Practical Guide of Design, Analysis, & Applications Jan Korvink and Oliver Paul Springer • 2006 • 900 pp ISBN: 3-540-21117-9 £191.50 / 249 Written by leading experts, this book aims to provide cohesive guidance on the design and analysis of MEMS. Topics include transducer operations, topology simulation, modeling, free-space microsystems, interface circuitry, microoptics, microactuators, micromachining, and all types of microsensors. The authors address issues such as reliability, performance, production, packaging, and cost effectiveness.

Metal Matrix Composites Karl U. Kainer (ed.) Wiley • 2006 • 330 pp ISBN: 3-527-31360-5 $170 / £100 / 150 Subtitled Custom-Made Materials for Automotive and Aerospace Engineering, this book surveys the latest results and developments in the use of metal matrix composites (MMCs) for these industries. To date, MMCs have been used for certain applications in the automotive industry. However, since MMCs can be designed directly into materials, they also have potential in the aerospace arena.

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Going back to nature Anyone in search of inspired solutions to engineering problems will find a great variety of lessons in nature. Biomimetics does an excellent job of outlining nature’s engineering expertise. Christopher Viney | Founding Professor of Engineering at the University of California, Merced | [email protected] The natural world is an enchanting mentor for the engineer. Anyone who goes ‘back to nature’ in search of inspired solutions to engineering problems will find a great variety of lessons waiting for someone to come along and learn them. Biomimetics does an excellent job of outlining the breadth of nature’s engineering expertise. For several years, materials scientists and engineers grabbed the headlines by talking about the synthesis, hierarchical assembly, and unique properties of natural materials. Examples include abalone shells and rats’ teeth (armor), sea urchin spines (optical waveguides), peacock feathers (photonic materials), spider silk (high-performance ballistic fibers), lotus leaves (nonfouling surfaces), and gecko feet (strong, reusable adhesives). But materials technology is just one area of engineering in which nature can serve as consultant. This book shows us many more. The introductory chapter, written by the editor, Yoseph Bar-Cohen, is especially stimulating. It reveals an impressive panorama of how nature can inspire and instruct, encompassing artificial intelligence, bioinspired motors, sensors and actuators, defense and attack mechanisms, robotics, cyborgs, and, of course, materials. The discourse is laced with fascinating examples and a useful bibliography. Chapters 2-19 consider aspects of biomimetics in depth. They feature an international cast of authors, many of whom are very well known. The standards of clarity and editing are high. The style is broadly accessible and at the same time technically detailed. According to the acknowledgments, it would appear that each chapter was read by at least three reviewers, which is further proof of the care and attention that went into the writing and editing of this book. The chapter bibliographies are thorough, mostly avoiding the parochialisms that too often go unchallenged by reviewers and editors. The final chapter is an assessment of present technology and the likely impact of biomimetics on engineering and nonengineering fields (including art, architecture, economics, and strategy). This chapter necessarily contains some speculative material, but this is not done to excess. Readers are left in no doubt that the future of biomimetics is worth watching closely.

There are three aspects in which the book disappoints. The first is that there is no apparent reason for the sequence of chapters; there is no systematic flow or evolution of ideas through the book. This will be especially apparent (and ironic) to readers with a background in biomimetic materials, since nature is a provider of templates and a master of structure and order. Chapter 1 does provide a listing of subsequent chapters and topics, and Chapter 20 does reference preceding material, but the former doesn’t justify the sequence, and the latter doesn’t parallel the sequence. It would have helped if chapters had been grouped according to themes such as robotics, materials, motion and control, sensing and cognition, and optimization. Second, there could usefully have been a chapter on energy transduction and storage. An ability to mimic or adapt the processes that occur in chloroplasts and mitochondria will complement our capacity to mimic how nature’s molecular motors and actuators work. Third, the book is sparse with regard to concerns and challenges that Yoseph Bar-Cohen (ed.)

Biomimetics: Biologically Inspired Technologies • 2005 Taylor & Francis CRC Press • 552 pp • ISBN: 0-84933-163-3 $139.95 / £79.99

biomimetics has to face. In particular, it does not address the main limitation of biomimetics, namely that nature optimizes its solutions to meet its problems, not ours. A biomimetic material will only be successful if it is used in a manner that parallels the context for which nature optimized its structure and properties. Lessons may not apply when removed from their original context. In addition, nature may have no answer at all to some of our problems. Again a materials example is instructive: living organisms do not tell us how to make materials that can withstand the thermal and chemical environment inside a jet engine. These criticisms should not turn a single reader away from this book. It is an interesting read and a rich resource. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the future of engineering over the next 50 years.

JUNE 2006 | VOLUME 9 | NUMBER 6

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